Bicycles have continued to evolve to keep pace with the needs and wants of riders since Karl von Drais invented the first bicycle, called the “Laufmaschine,” or “running machine,” in 1817. As technology has advanced, so have the options available to cyclists. One of many such evolutions is pedal-assist for electric bikes.
The Evolution of Pedal-Assist E-bikes
In the early days of bicycles, many bicycles had no pedals at all. The first bicycle with pedals, was built by Philipp Moritz Fischer in 1853 and is still on public display today. Later, in the 1860s, several inventors created prototypes with pedals attached to the front wheels. Known as “boneshakers,” due to their rough ride, bicycles have to undergo many adaptations to make them more comfortable to use and more commercially accessible.
While e-bikes may seem a more modern invention, electric bicycle patents were documented as early as the 1880s in both France and the United States. Early e-bike designs featured a hand-held lever system that controlled the motor. However, it wasn’t until the middle 20th century that electric bikes began to gain popularity as an innovation in bicycling.
Fast-forward to 1989, and another of biking’s evolutions, the Pedelec or Pedal Electric Cycle, now known as pedal-assist, was born. Advancements and innovation continue today in pedal-assist technology and the e-bike industry, creating a variety of choices for modern cyclists.
How Does Pedal-Assist Work?
Pedal-assist, by definition, means the cyclist must pedal for the e-bike to propel forward. It is simply able to do so with less effort than otherwise required of the cyclist. As the name implies, pedal-assist does not eliminate the use of bike pedals. Instead, it enhances them.
While a cyclist does get the extra momentum that pedal assistance provides, it’s because of that assistance that cyclists are able to ride in more demanding environments for longer periods of time.
Once the pedal assist is activated, the motor engages and allows the rider to pedal with less effort. Often pedal assist has different speed levels which range from the least to the maximum acceleration. This allows the cyclist to go further distances for longer periods of time than non-assisted pedaling. It can also minimize or eliminate the soreness generated on long rides and inclines.
What are the Limitations of Pedal-Assist?
Even with pedal-assist, the fastest a Class 1 or Class 2 U.S. pedal-assist bicycle can travel is 20 mph before the motor stops running. A class 3 will reach a top speed of 28 mph. Any speed thereafter is dependent on the driver. Even with a motor, an e-bike is still a bicycle and is designed to perform as such.
Battery range is another important factor to keep in mind with pedal-assist technology. Although you can continue bicycling on your own power once the battery drains, a full charge can take 2.5-8 hours to recharge fully. As long as you plan ahead or are prepared to utilize your own pedal power if the battery drains, you won’t be left stranded.
Is Pedal-Assist Better than a Throttle?
The question of “Which is better: a throttle or pedal assist?” is really not the right question at all. The better question would be, “Which one is right for you?” A throttle allows the driver to choose between pedaling and not pedaling. With pedal-assist, the cyclist must pedal for the motor to engage. This creates a more intuitive approach to cycling, with bike and rider working together.
If you prefer the traditional feel of cycling, but with the ability to go longer distances, faster, with less recovery time – pedal assist is likely the best choice for you. If you want the feel of the great outdoors without the effort, you may prefer a throttle.
Can I Turn Pedal-Assist Off and On?
Pedal-assist does have an on/off mode. When pedal assist is turned off, your e-bike works like a traditional bike. To operate pedal assist, simply turn the switch on and choose which pedal assist option is right for you and your riding conditions and mood at any given time.
Choosing off or on is not your only option with pedal assist. Once on, the cyclist also has control of how much assistance they receive. Many bikes come with an LCD screen to make it easier to choose your level of pedal assistance. Whether you just need a little extra power to make it up that big hill or want to expend as little energy as possible on a hot day, you are in complete control.
Ridepanda E-Bikes with Pedal Assist
Ridepanda offers a vast collection of Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes with pedal assist from some of the most well-trusted brands, such as:
- Charge City
- Detroit Bikes
- Monday Motorbikes
- Wing Bikes
- n+ Mercedes-Benz
With so many options, it’s easy to get lost in the technical details. However, each of our e-bicycles is carefully selected by an unbiased panel of experts in the micro-mobility industry. If you still feel overwhelmed by our many choices, we have experts on hand to chat with you to determine what best suits your needs, or you can utilize Ridefinder to help match you to your ideal ride.
Once you’ve found your perfect bike, our flexible financing makes your purchase easy. From installment payment plans to cryptocurrency, we have a purchase method to get you on the road with your new bike quickly and with ease. For continued peace of mind, add Pandacare. Pandacare pairs you with our expert mechanics for full-service maintenance and support.
At Ridepanda, our mission to help create a world with happier, more efficient towns and cities that run on small, quiet, eco-friendly electric vehicles, including e-bikes, means we stand behind the quality of our products and our uncompromising approach to customer service. For more information, schedule a consultation or contact us online. You enjoy the ride; we’ll handle the rest.